As I am wont to do, I glibly cracked a joke on Twitter about Grand Prix being the best racing movie ever made, and subsequently received many emails and direct messages from folks who were very upset about my Rush erasure. Today, I’d like to set the record straight. I did not forget about Rush. In fact, Rush is the whole reason I’m writing about motorsport today.
Now, I grew up around racing. My family avidly tuned into NASCAR until Dale Earnhardt’s death. We were not an Earnhardt family in the slightest — but watching that happen during my brother’s second birthday party left a lot to be desired. My mom turned off NASCAR, and we just never turned it back on.
It all happened at the prime time for me to move away from motorsport, too. Cars were a thing my parents liked, and it’s not cool to like what your parents like. Instead, I decided to get into music (and ironically also listened to all of the same music my parents did; you can’t win all your battles).
It wasn’t until I was in high school that several interests coalesced into the perfect storm. I’d gotten really into Supernatural, which had revived my interest in both classic cars and 1970s rock music. I’d found a weird niche in Norse mythology, so seeing the Thor movies was absolutely critical. When I learned that Chris Hemsworth — Thor himself! — was going to be starring in a movie about 1970s race car drivers, I was already hooked. And my family, entrenched in the car world, went out to see Rush on its opening day.
To say that my little 16-year-old heart fell in love with that movie would be a drastic understatement. I, quite literally, could not stop thinking about it on the drive home from the movie theater. I couldn’t believe that Rush was based on a true story, and I wanted to know just how much Ron Howard had decorated the Niki Lauda/James Hunt story to make it Hollywood friendly.
As it turned out, the true story was even wilder (you’re telling me these arch rivals used to live together???), and I spent my last year and a half of high knee-deep in online motorsport archives, trying to absorb as much as I could about Formula 1 racing as it existed in the 1970s. And then at some point, I decided to watch a modern race. And then, as a graduation present, I asked for tickets to the United States Grand Prix — I mean, since I was going to college in Austin that fall.
At the time, I foolishly thought that watching a race in person would get F1 out of my system, that I’d see my first-ever race and be done with it all. Instead, I’d spent the weeks leading up to the event hand-painting flags and gunning to win a contest to meet Daniel Ricciardo (spoiler alert: I did). And then, once the weekend was over, I started wondering what else I could do.
I did not get race car out of my system. Instead, the following year, I attended seven races in four different countries. I started writing about going to these events and about my perspective as a female race fan. I got even more involved. And then, I started freelancing for Red Bull. I got picked up by Jalopnik. Before I knew it, I’d stumbled into a dream career.
See, I always knew I wanted to be a writer; as soon as I could talk, I was asking my parents to teach me how to read and write. I just never knew what I wanted to write about — until I saw Rush. (And nearly a decade on, I can confidently say that the racing scenes in Rush still do not compare to Grand Prix.)